The frosted aspen trees are glowing vibrantly in the morning sun, as though someone has placed thousands of spindly crystal sculptures on the side of the mountain.
Greg Arnette and Colton Edwards have brought us here to impress us. And they haven’t failed. We sail glide through thigh-deep powder, slaloming through this dreamlike aspen grove.
Even without this breathtaking experience, it would have been a special day at Powder Mountain. The resort has been closed for a day and a half upon our arrival, and there are three feet of powder waiting across the resort’s 8,464 acres of skiable terrain. Alas, we’ll see just a small part of that — there isn’t time, this morning, for a cat ride — but it doesn’t feel like we’re missing out. We start the day in the mad start-of-the-day scramble known here as “the release of the powderhounds” on the way to Timberline lift, at the top of which Greg and Colton debate where we should go for untouched powder. Not the most untouched powder, mind you — that’s not hard to find here at all — but the best.
We get a taste of everything. Steep and deep quickies. Low-angle hillsides that seem to go on forever. Gorgeous glades surrounded by nothing but snow, trees and our small crew — this is a busy weekday morning, for obvious reasons, but in many places on this enormous mountain it comes as something of a surprise when one crosses paths with another skier or snowboarder.
To that end, we complete our journey with an arduous hike — easier for the skiers in our group, but tougher by far for boarders in hip-deep powder — across an aptly named ridgeline called Sanctuary, dropping finally and mercifully into a run called Proving Grounds.
Not that we needed to. Powder Mountain had already proven itself. Again and again.
Next stop: Solitude.
Matthew D. LaPlante is skiing and boarding all of Utah’s 14 skis resorts—in seven days—with fellow powderhounds Jared “JJ” Jones and Erik “Swede” Price. Follow their trip on Twitter: @SkiAllOfUtah.